Venice was nothing like I expected. Sure, we’ve seen it on tv many times before and we knew it was going to be absolutely stunning, but arriving at Santa Lucia station and walking out onto the Grand Canal rendered me completely immovable, with the exception of my jaw dropping to the floor and my eyes popping out my head. I was spellbound. And no matter how hard I try, my words will never be able to do justice to just how beautiful and mesmerizing Venice is.
When I eventually came out of my daze, hubby and I went off to find the vaporetto (water bus) stop. It was a bit of a mission to find out which one to take and when it arrived it was packed. Hubby and I managed to squeeze in quite near to the front but we did not mind one bit as it gave us fantastic photographic opportunities. Off we went down the Grand Canal, gaping at the splendour of it all. We became aware of some commotion behind us at some stage; someone shouting really loudly, but nothing could take our attention away from the spectacle that is Venice. I felt like Angelina Jolie in the The Tourist (albeit a tired, hot and sweaty version… with a heavy suitcase…) but I could imagine myself getting…
My daydream was rudely interrupted by a tap on the shoulder; rather an elbow in the ribs to be more exact. The elbow belonged to an elderly lady, red in the face, shouting in my face “Attenzione! Attenzione! Attenzione!” She was clearly the source of the commotion that we’ve been ignoring, and we were actually the cause of it! She, being a local resident, was not at all impressed by two silly tourists blocking her exit from the water bus! She was shouting all kinds of, what I decided to take for Italian pleasantries (!) at us, while wiping the sweat of her brow. We tried to apologize in our best Italian and with one last infuriated look our way she took her leave! But we were not in the least bit offended. We were in Venice.
We went to Venice because it is one of those bucket-list places. There is something about this city built on top of the water that is just magical. Its got a charm that is indescribable. And the feeling that you get from it will never escape you. Whenever anyone would ever utter the word “Venice” again, you will always yearn to go back to it.
An added bonus was the food we tasted there. The shops have the most beautiful way of displaying even the simplest things. We walked past a shop that sold dried pasta; complete with farfalle inspired by the Italian flag! And restaurants would advertise their seafood in a dazzling display (especially the touristy ones!). We were lucky to have found some really great little restaurants tucked away in small side streets as we did not stay so close to the tourist centre. On our first evening we had amazing seafood with pasta. What still amazes me about pasta in Italy is how simple they make it. Not smothered in all kinds of thick and creamy sauces like we are typically used to, but rather letting the ingredients shine and the pasta really just becomes a vehicle so mop up all the natural goodness and flavours of the star ingredients.
The next day, we decided to just walk the streets without a map. What an adventure. It was amazing and we came across little squares and cafés we would have otherwise probably missed. (We also discovered one or two dead ends!) Lunch was in some neighbourhood restaurant where no one spoke a word of English and menus were only available in Italian. It was filled with locals and I would have rather died than to take out my camera and take a photo! We managed to order fegato alla veneziana (calf’s liver and onions) for hubby and pizza for me. (Yes, not the quintessential Venetian dish, but I am a bit of a pizza addict and any pizza in Italy must be the real deal, right!) It was simply delicious. And we had to finish it off with tiramisu, of course! There is no photos to show for it, which probably will necessitate that we go back there again one day!
Not that you need any excuse to go back to Venice. I find it hard to describe the feeling I had when we were there. I have tried to give a little glimpse of it above and when I read it back it seems so inadequate. Maybe music can do it justice.
This is part of the soundtrack from the movie, The Tourist. I think they have the music just spot on – every time I listen to it, it takes me back to that magical moment I first laid my eyes on the Grand Canal. Click here and listen to at least about 45 seconds in… To me that is the music my soul makes when I think of Venice. It is an incredibly special place and I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see it. I truly hope I can go back one day.
PS: And picking photos for this piece was agony! I wish I could post all 1 032 we took!